The theorbo is a lute with an incredibly long neck, Stephan Rath a master of this instrument specialized in early music repertoires. Scott Fields is, well, Scott Fields – in this occasion picking a gorgeously sounding nylon string guitar made by Robert Ruck. In 2007, MusikTriennale Köln run the series “Solos For Duos, Improvisation From Yesterday And Today” pairing musicians coming from opposite grounds on related instruments: exactly what these two artists needed for their encounter.

This composition, like in other works by the Cologne-residing American guitarist, is based on spoken language: in this case, an imaginary conversation whose tones and accents were transformed into notational concepts enriched with improvised elements. The instrumental range is quite similar except for some deeply resounding basses, so the challenge while listening to What We Talk is essentially to determine who is playing what in a number of circumstances (expert ears will definitely tell the timbres apart, though). As the composer puts it, “roles can change instantly and seamlessly or can disappear entirely”. The reward for the effort is music that sounds as clear as a sunny autumn morning, also thanks to the fantastic quality of the recording (hats off, Reinhard Kobialka). The parts are always absolutely intelligible, even when the contiguousness of the upper partials elicits a slight meshing of natural reverberations, which is a wonderful effect if you ask me. This stuff is going to gratify devotees of serious acoustic interplay, including icons from the times of yore such as Lenny Breau and Ralph Towner (provided that the above mentioned aficionados are prepared to step a little further in terms of contemporariness)

The record is the demonstration of how ambitiousness and sharp-mindedness easily live together when the involved parties are both willing to listen to the counterpart and to give something earnest and, at the same time, logical to the audience. An ideal synthesis of technique, heart and brain, an utterly calming album with a uniquely refined edge. Oh, and the track called “The Very Moment I Saw Your Facebook Page I Just Knew We Are Soulmates Forever” confirms Fields as the George Foreman of titling.

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